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Willard: Pastors as Teachers of the Nations

26 September 2008

Dallas Willard at GeorgeFox 2-cropped

Dallas Willard finished his presentation this afternoon on "Knowing Christ and the Hope of Moral Knowledge" at George Fox Evangelical Seminary this afternoon.   

His emphasis was on pastors as teachers of the nations. Pastors, as leaders of Christian communities have a unique role to speak to the culture and to our world about the need for moral knowledge and about Christ as the only viable source of moral knowledge.  He placed emphasis on both "evangelizing" within the Christian community so that our people understand the difference that it makes to have abandoned Christ as the source of moral knowledge and then seek/create opportunities to speak to the culture near-by to us presenting the Christ alternative to the increasing chaos of not having a unifying authority for determining moral knowledge.

A statement that I appreciated:

Our job is not to get people to do things, but to know and to understand and to be Christ’s person in life, based on a knowledge of who Christ is and what his kingdom involves.

He admits that it is an audacious thought—that pastors should be the teachers of the nations. They are to be the ones who answer the big questions of life.

  1. What is goodness, rightness & duty?
  2. Which things and people and actions are good, right, praiseworthy?
  3. How do we know goodness, etc., and which things are good, etc.?
  4. How does one become good, do the right thing, the morally honorable thing?

He notes, however that pastors must:

1.Be sure that they have taken the trouble "to know."  We must have knowledge of the things in which we put our trust.

2. Be open to the world and learning what the world is about. We must know what Buddhism says about the four questions stated above.  Every religious system answers the four questions above in one manner or another.

He ends this section by returning to the emphasis he made earlier:  pastors begin with discipleship.  Discipleship is increasingly the "in" word, but true discipleship must be a life-transforming thing.   He states that the disciples we are trying to create must…

    1. Know what Jesus said.
    2. Conduct the affairs of life as Jesus would, if he were you.
    3. Know how to operate in the power of God. (how prayer inducts the power of God into your situation)

He said (obviously much more–I have eight single spaced type written pages of notes) but these are some of the highlights.

How in our preaching are we teaching people the foundation of moral knowledge?  How are we communicating moral knowledge in our sermons?  How are we helping people not just to keep rules (don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie), but instead to become the type of Christ followers inside that would do what is consistent with life in Christ. 

(still more reflection to come)

Conf and Workshops, Social concerns

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